Trials and smiles of an author (10) – COMPETITION TIME

It’s coming up to Christmas, and I’ll say here just once that maybe someone you know would like a lovely book about the adventures and murders that take place in Ragaris.

Moving on, one of the interests of being an author, perhaps especially an independently- published one, is that you get to take a sympathetic and professional interest in fellow authors. As well as the numerous and action-packed books of my publisher CS Woolley, and the lively time-travelling escapades penned by my friend Ian Storer aka Ian Roberts (who has previously written for this blog), I can draw your attention to a sweet children’s book (“Pumpkin’s Halloween”) just out, by my friend Lindsay Parker.

In addition I have three writing friends who send or have recently sent me drafts to read and comment on. One is a synopsis/excerpt intended for a competition; one is a very original and learned writer-outside-normal-genre; and I’ve just received a non-fiction draft intended to rethink the way I look at life and faith. Intriguing.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on Book 4, set in the northern land of Falli, and it at last has a tentative title:


To explain why would be to give too much away, but of course many of you will have read the intro chapter that explains how the city of Bishopstown got its name

and most of you already know that on Ragaris priests choose a new name when they’re ordained. Hence Abbot Paul in “10th Province” and “Servant’s Voice” was originally the boy Tommid in “We Do Not Kill Children.” (You all knew that?)

The land of Falli has a proverb – “Men and women live and die; Fame and shame endure for aye.” It is a small country with good natural defences provided by mountains and sea (thank you to the map-drawer) and a traditional friendship with Marod.

In the decades following the Marodi Queen Nerranya’s accession to the throne of Jaryar in the year 620, power balances on the continent shifted. “Servant’s Voice” showed some of the consequences of this shift through the eyes of Ricossa. Another consequence was a war against Falli initiated by her traditional enemy in the far west, Baronda, whose rulers thought that Nerranya would be too busy to help.

This war is long over when “Naming People and Places” begins, but its effects are not.

Falli is also a land of stories, so I’ve been trying to fit in a few folktale motifs. Again I don’t want to give too much away, but one of the characters is a foundling; another is trying to impress his true love’s parents and win her hand by glorious achievement; and my husband tells me I should really fit in a holy well. And I’m not sure about a ghost…

In a previous post, I’ve complained about the difficulties of writing a procedural detective story, where everyone is in the same place all the time, thinking, eating, plotting etc. Still grumbling on this point, I should point out that this genre makes two additional demands.

First, connected to what I’ve already said, I am being forced to write a lot of scenes where largeish numbers of people are sitting around talking about the plot.

My previous books have contained several such scenes – panic about poison on Halloween in WDNKC, the revelations that follow Mejorad barging into Brinnon’s home at a crucial moment in SV, and perhaps most of all the long chapter in 10th P where Fillim Queensister assumes the role of Poirot. I can therefore say from experience that these scenes are enormously satisfying to pull off, but are very difficult to do well. I still do not know my characters thoroughly enough for this one.

Secondly, procedural detective stories tend to have fairly low stakes. “Who killed Colonel Protheroe?” is enough. My previous books do not have the planet-wide kind of stakes we see in “Lord of the Rings” or “Dune,” but they have always affected the governance of at least one country.

So far I’m not sure that book 4 does, so is it going to be sufficiently interesting for the reader, and especially the new reader who isn’t already a frequent traveller to Ragaris? I’m pondering if I need to up the stakes, and if so, how. See above re the war with Baronda, or perhaps don’t.

But, despite all this, it’s currently going quite well and interestingly, and it’s time for another naming competition.

You will recall that the characters Simoren b’Asa and Narod b’Lan in SV owed their names to readers of this blog. I am now looking for a name for the following character:

A middle-aged man of Falli, second son of a great lady, with an equally important wife and one or two small children. He is smooth and ambitious,a city dweller, good at conversation with strangers. His father is already named, so he is “X, son of Buddric.”

The prize, as before, is to be named in the Acknowledgements, and probably on Facebook (unless you’d prefer not) and of course a free signed copy in the distant future.

You will find the Rules for Names on Ragaris here: 

(Make sure you’re entering the right competition, and not the 2018 one!)

With reference to Falli in particular, the names follow the same pattern as Marod (rather than Ricossa or Jaryar) although you could choose a Jaryari style name if you liked.

You could even choose a favourite name from a previous Tale, since Fallian babies are often named after famous or beloved people from the past. “Naming People and Places” already contains a Rafad, a Kai, and a Li, all of which names have featured before.

I should emphasise that you do not need to have read any of the Tales from Ragaris to enter the competition, although you do need to read the Rules.

Deadline is the end of January 2022.

Love from the PPI Blogger

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